WILSON – The Wilson Village Board has earmarked Aug. 26 for a vote on the proposed dissolution of the village.
But it already is clear that, because of state law, residents may not know everything they would like to know about the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal before they cast their votes.
According to state law, an independent study will not be conducted until after the vote to determine the best way to proceed in the dissolution process. The Village Board then will release the study to the public.
If the public doesn’t agree that the study’s findings show a true benefit to village dissolution, the public may petition the board once again to hold a second vote on dissolution.
“I think the state needs to change the rules,” said Mayor Bernard “Bernie” Leiker. “The study needs to happen before the vote … People have a lot of questions, and I don’t have the answers yet.”
Still, Leiker said he feels strongly that there is a “growing contingent willing to open their eyes and look at this as a real positive thing.”
“We have an elderly resident, who I think summed it up best when he said that we have to realize our taxes are very high, but the village is not growing, and yet the costs of maintaining the village are rising,” Leiker said. He said the village’s greatest asset is the town, which can continue to grow.
Leiker said state officials have told him the state provides money for the study and to aid in the dissolution process. He said the state also will provide money to help disseminate information prior to the vote, but what information is available other than the time, date and place, is unclear.
“We’re in the dark,” he said. “It’s a shame, but we’ll deal with it. I tell people we have an escape clause, because the community has a chance at another vote, but it’s not the greatest scenario.”
Leiker said the study is expected to address four key areas: the fate of village employees; expected changes in taxes; the future of village assets, like parks and the wastewater treatment plant; and services the town will provide.
“This plan needs to be presented before the vote, so everyone knows what dissolution means,” he said. “I’ll try and inform the community as best I can, so that people aren’t afraid to vote. I tell people they have to vote from a position of knowledge, not emotion, but they can’t because they don’t have the information.”
A small group of residents presented a petition to the Village Board last month to dissolve the village, setting the wheels in motion under state guidelines.
Under state law, if the municipality, instead, initiates the dissolution process, an independent feasibility study precedes the vote.